Minister David E Flavell

Written by    Last updated: September 13, 2006

Second marriages

Q. Where does the Church lie in terms of second marriages? I’ve heard it’s up to the discretion of the vicar is this correct? Can some vicars agree and some not? What happens if the vicar in my parish won’t marry us but the vicar in a different one would, (if we lived there) How can this be allowed?

A. There are two main views within the Church on second marriages. The first says "No remarriage after divorce in any circumstances". The second says "Remarriage after divorce in appropriate circumstances." If the minister has the first view, then that’s it, end of story. If he or she has the second view, you will have to show that you have appropriate circumstances. Inappropriate circumstances would probably include:

a) This is your seventh wedding
b) You are not paying childcare when you should be
c) The relationship you are now in was the cause of the marriage break‐up
d) You’ve known each other three days

Because statistically you are more likely to get divorced again if you have been divorced already, the church is cautious about you rushing into things.
Each minister will have their own policy, and each denomination does it this way
a) because they think that the person on the ground who has met the couple is best placed to make the decisions.
& b) because if they tried to impose a uniform way of doing things, they’d have a revolt of ministers on their hands (a frightening prospect I’d say)
If the vicar in your parish won’t marry any divorced people, but the one next door will, then you may be able to marry in a different parish provided that you have a significant connection to that parish from October 1st 2008. However, there may be other denominations in your neighbourhood who will do weddings for those who have been divorced. Ask the people who do the flowers or the cars ‐ they’ll be in the know about the local scene. Better still, ask a photographer, and he or she will be able to give you the low‐down on who marries divorced people, how competent they are, and how long the service takes!

Widowed, but marrying again

Q. A number of years ago I was widowed. Early last year I met a wonderful man who I want to share my life with. In the eyes of God could I marry again in a church or would I have to have a civil wedding??

A. The wedding service usually includes the words "Till death us do part". Unfortunately death has parted you from your husband, so you are now completely free to marry again. You have the right to be married in the Church of England in your parish or a parish to which you  have a significant connection, and it should normally be straightforward in any other church.

Which churches are in my parish?

Q. How can I find out which churches are in my parish? How do I then go about meeting with the vicar to discuss the forthcoming wedding?

A. You can either look in the phone book, or just walk round your neighbourhood to see where the churches are. Today, many churches have websites too.
Anglicans will expect you to marry in your local parish church, or from October 1st 2008, in a parish to which you have a significant connection. The Free Churches work on a different system.
The best way to meet the minister to discuss the wedding is to come to the Sunday morning service. The time is usually posted up outside the church. The worst way is to knock on his door at lunchtime on a Saturday…

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